technology arm of hansard has taken the next step in keeping its life arms well ahead of its rivals
Hansard Information Services (HISL) is piloting a new investment feature on its intermediary internet portal, Hansard Online, with the aim of simplifying the calculations of clients' investment exposure and automating the creation of presentation packs.
The new Personal Investment Review feature is designed to give advisers a thorough view of a client's investment exposure breakdown and create a marketing pack for pre- and post-sales purposes, said Paul Harwood, chief executive of HISL.
The system consolidates all of a client's holdings in various funds or policies, and automatically calculates exposure by asset category, geographic region and sector. It is being piloted by four advisers, and there are plans to roll out the system to Hansard's advisers by the end of the month.
'I have accessed the system by dial-up and ADSL. I was surprised dial-up was not as horrible as I thought it might be in terms of adding enormous amounts of time to put together a portfolio,' said Chris Eaborn of Eaborn Associates, who has piloted the system. He said dial-up, as opposed to ADSL, adds roughly five to seven minutes per portfolio, which is not too cumbersome if preparing for one or two cases. Eaborn added: 'I think ADSL should be encouraged for brokers or I think laziness may set in and they might not utilise the system to its fullest capabilities.'
Harwood notes that many international IFAs, particularly those operating from the Middle East or Far East, are already using high-speed internet provision because this service is fairly cheap in these regions compared with say, the UK.
Eaborn also rates highly the option to use the existing Hansard branded policy booklet from the standard application, or having this as a non-branded alternative.
He also noted that the ability to customise is essential. 'The market commentaries can be helpful as something to look informed and to fill space,' he said. Yet he cautions that these commentaries could sometimes contradict the long-term view an adviser might have in mind for a client. 'For market commentary, being able to de-select some of the irrelevant sectors might be good as not to be risking 'too much information.''
However, Harwood said that in this respect, HISL was torn between offering a complete and accurate market commentary and the facility for advisers to tweak the information for themselves. Tweaking was not an option because the end result may not truly reflect the fund manager's opinion, he added.
The new feature also incorporates a performance track record for a client's individual holdings, from the date of first investment to the present day, assuming a continuous holding. Performance is broken down by overall return and annualised return.
The market comparison feature is designed to allow a comparison between the performance of a client's investments and market indices of the adviser's choice.
Eaborn suggested the tool could add point of sale value to the broker, who would be able to demonstrate that some research has been carried out on behalf of the client. He said it can also be used as a post-sale 'feel-good document', as a 'best advice' tool that demonstrates investment comparisons or as a general research sales aide that can be used more than once.
He said the best advice standpoint will be increasingly important as the offshore market becomes more regulated in response to anti money laundering and mis-selling issues.
'All things considered, I think I will use the facility for a bit of a mix of these combinations,' said Eaborn. 'The time it takes to put together a report which can vary from about five minutes for pulling off a report for an existing client and not making any default changes, through to say 20 minutes if you are fiddling around with doing various fund and market comparisons, still works out as a relatively small extra time per piece of signed up business.'
The next stage for Hansard Online's development is a proactive alerting feature, which will alert advisers when the weightings of a portfolio move out of predetermined parameters.
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